Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Oh-key Doh-key

Wanna see something pretty cool? Here...

It's my car keys! Well, my car keys and a PetPerks card... Pretty sweet, huh? Yeah, you might not think so at first glance. But take a closer look at that key...

See the distinctive brown and black wood grain? That is a car key with Macasser Ebony grips. A little cooler now?

This was the third key I've made like this (total number is about 10 or 12 now). The first one wasn't nearly this good - the shape was inconsistent, the wood choice was poor, the grip itself was too big - but I keep it around to remind me of where I started with them.

The one pictured above is one of my two daily users. I like it the most because it doesn't look like a wooden key grip at first glance; people always think it's the black plastic key grip that came with the original set of keys. Here's the other daily user...

This one was my second attempt at a wooden key grip. It quickly became my first attempt at making a patch in a key grip when my sanding opened up a worm hole (nothing that created a rift in the space-time continuum - it was just a tiny little tunnel from a tiny little wood worm). I didn't think I would be able to easily make a seamless repair, so I opted for the opposite effect and use a small scrap of heartwood from the same board. I think it turned out nicely.

Not sure what kind of wood it is, to be honest with you - maybe something in the rosewood family? It sure smells like it when I cut it, anyway. I got the board this wood came from in Ohio a few years ago when visiting my in-laws. We stumbled across a woodworking shop that was going out of business. I'd flown up and only had room in my suitcase to bring back a few of the shorter boards I could find. You want to make any bets as to whether or not my suitcase got searched?

The metal insert in the first few keys was copper tubing, because that was all I could find at the local hardware store. Later on, by the time I'd started experimenting more with shape and design, I had come across some bronze bushings and was using them instead. They definitely wear a lot better...

And I like the designs I've come up with! The triangular shape is appealing to me - I thought it might be an interesting shape for a key to a boat, where the key is inserted straight into the dashboard and you could easily see the grip from many angles.

Eventually, I'd like to try making a few keys that are more "in the round" for just such an application.

The wood from both of these keys came from Australia - brown mallee in the fore ground and york gum underneath, in case anyone is interested. I love the way the brown mallee turned out - it looks a bit like flames, doesn't it? You can't see it in this picture, but the york gum looks like dozens of scary ghost faces to me (spooky!). Anyway, the bronze bushings hold up a lot better than the copper does. I suppose I could change the copper out on my older keys with not much difficulty, but... it's easier to just call it a lesson learned and make sure I use the more durable metal in the future.

These were some of the first woodworking projects I ever made. I'm excited to see what some of my next steps down this woodworking road will be!

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